A Coloured Rice Quarry - Pretend Construction

Last week I colored some rice, adding some Peppermint essence so it smelt super Yummy. 
I had no idea what I was going to do with the rice but Dimples hasn't had a Tactile Play tub in a while so I dyed some red, yellow and green. I dyed the rice by getting 3 separate bowls of dry rice, adding a smidgen of water and some color, mix it all around and let it sit for at least half an hour, then spread it evenly out on paper toweling and let it dry for a day. 
Dimples had seen it and asked to use his cars in it, so I set up a mini Construction Quarry. I kept the rice in a tray on top of a spill mat and laid it out separately (knowing that it would get mixed up- but that's part of the fun), collected some dump trucks and construction vehicles, trailors, some plastic trees, traffic cones and traffic lights. It looked very bright and visually appealing but it smelt minty and fresh also.
Dimples transferred colors dumping one lot on top of another color then he used the roller to flatten piles, and the snow scraper to clear a path. He went through and worked out which vehicles made the best tracks and which ones carried a trailer full of rice. It was a pretend quarry and there was lots of clever narration from Dimples being heard as I let him play freely.
He had his go at mowing the green rice and eventually all the colours got mixed together, he made a huge pile that was a hill then rolled it flat. He did try to separate and sort some colours out into dump trucks once they were all mixed up but it proved to be too time consuming.
Dimples did a great job at containing the rice in the tray, even after lots of trucks had to have a go at making burn out tracks and " skids" through the rice, then he parted the rice down the center. All the tipper trucks got loaded up and made a big pile, they were dumping and hauling rice from one end of the tray to the other, Dimples was pretending it was a Dangerous Construction site and had his sign at the site of danger.
Dimples keep mentioning how yummy it smelt, at one stage the little plastic trees were pine trees because it smelt so nice. The pretend construction quarry, clever and cute narration and imaginary play went on for a hour or so. He thoroughly enjoyed it and when I left him to have free play it was nice to listen to his little imaginary world come to life.

Learning Concepts:
Colour identification
Tactile/Sensory Play
Developing imagination
Imitating real life through play
Fine Motor
Colour sorting

Ideas for Extension:
Car & Construction Ideas:  Playdough tracks, Tire Paint Printing, Dirt digging & more
A pretend play car wash


  1. I love how colourful it is, very inviting!

  2. So colourful!!! Was it hard to clean up?

    1. Not at all, barely any got off the spill mat so I just poured it all into a jar for next time & what did was easily swept up (one good think about wood floor).

  3. Ooh how fun! My in laws are currently installing a pool so my son went to watch the excavator digging up the ground. This has inspired tons of imitative play so I may have to create something like this! Have a great week :)

  4. What an inspiration! I'll definitely be trying this with my girls. Thank you!

  5. Wow, look at that rice! My son would love the colours and the trucks although he seems to try to eat the rice!

  6. Oh my kids adore this kind of play set up... even the nine year olds! So much fun!

  7. I just love how much learning kids can get out of a simple sensory tray...and they don't even know it!

  8. I love it!! Looks so inviting and what a fabulous way to play with coloured rice!

  9. Rice is always always a huge hit here too. Mine aren't too good at keeping it in the tub though ;) Still they will dump and pour, dump and pour, they love it.

  10. This looks like a great play idea. I have never tried dying rice but I might just have a go :-) Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. That is a really cool idea because they can make colourful pathways. So cool! Miss Panda would LURVE this!

  12. Wow - just look at those colours! Love it! xo P

  13. We just made out first batch of play rice this week and love it. Cool idea :)

  14. I really need to try colored rice!! Thanks for the reminder - the boys would love it :-)

  15. He did a good job of keeping it all together. Each time we get out our rice we lose a bit along the way but it still keeps going for a long time. I bet my kids would love to pop their cars in it. Thanks for sharing :)

  16. What a fun activity, I love the vivid colours you made and the way they all ended up mixed at the end, what a great idea for small construction play!

  17. Love the colours and all that fantastic construction play...my girls would love this!

  18. Love all those bright colours and the opportunity to mix them together! My girls would love this construction play!



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